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A brief historical narration of the British Moba (Bimoba) people and their culture.

According to research findings by J.J Meij and others in 2007, the exact origin of Bimobas is not well defined. However, all sources and oral history stated that they originated from east and west Africa, particularly from Burkina Faso towards the end of Shilluk reign, 1500 AD in the 16th century. Up to now, there is no precise and actual time when this happened.

So, the Bimobas travelled south from Fada Ngourma in Burkina Faso and then were driven north by the Mamprusis and Dagombas using Chokosi armed force, to the part of the country that they now inhabit. Drawing insights from writers of this oral history, it has been established that the Bimoba tribe or ethnic group is a mixture of diverse minor groups such as the (Bims, Moba, Daggams2 or Moba, Basaalis, Gurmas, and Konkomba). And within these groups, there is a clear differentiation of clans.

The Moba people, closely linked to the Bimoba on the other hand, journeyed from Sudan to the west of Africa and it is evident that some clans of the Bimoba (the Naniik, Kpikpira and Nabakib clans) were sub-groups of the Moba. Migrating from such area, they all stayed along the direction from Sudan to Ghana. Accordingly,” the Bimobas settled at the end of the line and claim that they have migrated from Sudan separately and seem to originate from nomad traders. Some other clans (Tambiouk, Maab, Bakpang and Tont) came, according to oral history, from the area that is presently known as south Togo and the Southern regions of Ghana (Ashanti and Dagomba land). Although the Moba has some form of tribe structure, there is no such structure in the Bimoba group. They belong to the acephalous tribes”.

Located in the North-eastern part of Ghana, the Bimoba (British Moba) people are the close relatives of the people in Togo (Moba people). Those in Ghana are called Bimoba, and those in Togo are the Moba people. Sources indicate that Bimobas belong to the Gur speaking ethnic group and these Gur languages (Central Gur) belong to the Niger-Congo language group. Approximately over 70 languages belong to this group, and it is spoken in countries within Sahelian and Savannah regions of West Africa such as; in Burkina Faso, Southern Mali, North-eastern Ivory Coast, Northern halves of Ghana and Togo, and North-western Niger. Despite their large numbers, the Bimoba people are the fragmented ethnic group in West Africa, because wars and conquest affected them badly. This clarifies why they are dispersed in Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali.

 “At that time, they were effectively occupying their present homeland, the British and Germans were also extending their spheres of influence. The Bimoba were in the neutral zone established by the colonial powers in 1888; the Anglo-German convention of 1899 finally drew the international border to the west of their territory, placing the Moba under German rule”. Though, after World War I, Britain and France separated former German Togo between them and established the present border which shares between Ghana and Togo.). Further narratives suggest that the Moba were split into French and British areas, and those in the British territory were called British Moba or “B” Moba, hence the form of the word Bimoba in Ghana. Bimoba people in Burkina Faso call themselves Fada-Gurma, those in Togo preferred to be called Moba or Moab and those in Ghana Bimoba (British Mobas).

Bimobas are hardworking, friendly and very passionate people. Through hard work and long-term dedication to personal development, the majority of them are Settled in different parts of Ghana working and making considerable contributions to the growth and development of Ghana. Bimoba people didn’t have any form of festival until the revival of the Danjaur festival which aimed to be used as an avenue for promoting peace and development in the area. Among events during this festival include drumming, music, and dance. This brings together all Bimobas from far and near. Aside from this festival, there are different passages of life such as Funerals, Konnt, weddings etc.

The people hold funerals of older persons in great style mostly during the dry season. When a person dies, especially an elderly, the funeral performance is usually postponed until a season when family and close relatives are available to attend such rite.  Funerals are very important to my people. Family or societal ties are strengthened at the funeral grounds. People who have not travelled home for a long time will be compelled to go for such funerals. The celebration of funerals affords communities with the opportunity to mobilize the people for family and communal development discussions.

Bimoba dance

Konnt is a ritual which my people used to perform in the past (hardly performed now). This ritual was seen and perceived as “holy and secret”. During the process of initiation, the persons are prepared and sent to an isolation area (three months for a man and four months for a woman). After this whole process, the person is given a name such as Konjit, Konduuk, Dinwaak, Tanjon et al. for women, and Laar, Duut, Kombat, Konbian, Lambon, Bombom, and Konlan for men. Now I guess you know the meaning of my surname KONLAN. It merely refers to a person who had undergone the Konnt initiation ritual. And the exciting thing is that this person can speak a secret language when they finally come out from the isolation. Interestingly, some women were forced to go through this rite, especially when you are given out for marriage and you refuse. After coming out, you will freely accept the same man you were refusing. I really hope I could understand what happens at the isolation. Men, on the other side, voluntarily decided to go through.

Aside from this, the area is endowed with incredible drinks, healthy and delicious foods, and other delicacies that one may not want to miss out. One of such delicious dishes is Tubaani which is made from either Barbara beans or any other beans. It is very healthy and delicious. The people also eat TZ as the main staples. 

Tuubani made from Bambara beans, one of the typical Bimoba traditional dish

Pito is one of the most known traditional drink for my people. Staying there since childhood, I learned how to brew this Pito using sorghum. Pito is used during different occasions such as funerals, weddings, and during other smaller events. Women also brew to sell as a livelihood option. There can never be funeral without Pito. Secondly, during marriage ceremonies, Pito is part of the items sent to the woman’s family. Bunkpurugu is the district capital occupied by not only the Bimobas, but also Komkombas, Mamprusis, and other minor groups. The area is gifted with several tourist sites which one will be interested to see upon visiting. Among such places are the “African map” a stone formation of the African map situated in Bunkpurugu town, Nakpanduri scarp formerly the Gambaga escarpment (which shows the prettiness and admiration of nature) then the Nakpanduri Waterfalls, and the Kwame Nkrumah Guest House in Nakpanduri.

Pito, a local drink made from either Sorghum or Millet

From this research, I have learned the meaning of my surname, Konlan (a name given to a man who had gone through the Konnt rituals). I have also gained an idea of why we are called Bimobas (British Mobas, which is out of British colonial influence). And lastly, I know where we originated (Burkina Faso) and our close relatives (those in Togo, the Mobas).

I have never paid close attention to history. Recently, when I started to write about my rural life stories, a close friend randomly asked about my origin and the meaning of my surname Konlan. This was a challenging question. I couldn’t answer immediately because I didn’t know much; and I didn’t want to embarrass myself.  So, I decided to research my ancestry. Recently, I have come to learn that the Bimoba/Gurma ethnic group has a rich history. However, no comprehensive historical documentation is currently present. I am hoping to use this piece to elicit more insights from well learned and knowledgeable Bimoba people as well. I hope you enjoy reading it. Please do not hesitate to like, comment and share with others.

featured photo by Kwakudee

50 replies on “A brief historical narration of the British Moba (Bimoba) people and their culture.”

Found this from a previous post on a platform. I am not the writer!!

Kwant was basically an occultist practice among the Bimoba people. Members have to go through a complicated ritual for six months of confinement in order to be initiated into the group. It was quite a scary and highly classified secret ceremony where every one except members have to ran for cover if one finds his/herself around the area and time the ceremony were to take place. You dare not be seen around. It did not matter who u were: if u were caught around the spot and time of the action, u were also forced into the kwant – u were confined for six months and initiated into the group by force. Even a policeman detailed to effect arrest at the time would have known where power lies. It was a ghost-like and frightening ceremony that lasted for about 30 minutes. The ceremony itself was a mixture of drumming, singing, chanting and wailings. Wails of initiates who were either resisting or were so scared of the situation they found themselves. Initially the wails persisted but finally subdued by determined drummers, singers and incantatory senior members. Once the wailings was subdued, the process was over. The initiate then start the six month confinement in a simple hut roofed with thatched and barricaded with straw of millet. This was called the Kwanchieug. The Kwanchieug was protected 24 hours. Initiates were given a kind of anesthesia which made them unconscious for at least 4 weeks. The substances used for the anesthesia were among others, a mixture of tobacco and a kind of laxative seed ( popularly referred to as Bon-kpiema- nyut-koum). Heavy doses of this mixture was administered daily to ensure that an initiate will have consistent running stomach until he/she is dehydrated and become very feeble. For a week, the initiate was only given water. The idea was to clean and expand the initiate’s bowels, so he/she can eat well. It was an unbalanced diet in a form of porridge with no sugar or salt. The initiates were to live on this one-way diet for six months. It was a taboo to bath while in confinement. A kind of maid – call ‘Kwankparig’ was partially initiated to clean the the initiate with rag squeezed out of hot water and massage the body with Shea butter. It was also the responsibility of the maid to collect and dispose off the urine and shit of initiates. It was an unpaid job. The Kwankparig was only rewarded when the initiate now pass out and he/she become a controller of the Kwang. The Kwankparig was the custodian of all gifts given to the converts. This is where Kwankparig decides how much to earn. He/ she was a judge in his/her own case. Meanwhile, the initiate was to be taught a knew language (kwansir)-which he/ she must master within the six months of confinement. The Kwankparig was the teaching assistant. Like any academic work, they were given test and ranked according to their performance. The overall best initiate was named Kwang-bat(chief initiate- which we now corrupt to call Kombat). The female overall was call Kwang- jiet( the carrier of initiates). The most brilliant among them was called La-liig (leads the seers)- which is corrupted to be Laari. The female counterpart is Kwanduug. The most calm and discipline among the initiates was La-mbon( I ve seen mine) – this we corrupt to called Lambon. The female counterpart is Dinwaag. Duut was the most secretive initiate. Converts will tell u that Duut speak less. The most stubborn and miscreant among the initiates is referred to as Waagin. Waagin is more or less a kind of pseudo name. At the beginning, Kwant was meant to confine and fortify young men to protect communities. At the time, younger men sometimes willingly ran into Kwanchiug to be initiated. Later, our forefathers took advantage and used kwant as a way of forced marriage, especially females. By the time a woman complete the solitary confinement, she would have become pregnant. It matters not if the man was impotent. Arguably, it was all or none law. The baby could resemble any member of the group- but that child belong to the woman husband.

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Am happy that you shared this information. From my previous post on Bimoba history, alot of people requested I write specifically on “Kooant” or “Kwant”. I am still talking with some elderly people in the Bimoba setting, and it is helpful that you shared this one. I am hoping to get pictures of such rite. If you happen to see one, kindly share with me.

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Great work done 👍.
Thanks for this research Revelations you brought up.
Keep on with what you are doing.l pray God grant you more Grace.Stay blessed

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Thanks,slot but to add bimobas or Moab in Togo have s very big festival celebreted every year called “Timbampaab” which all citizens in Togo including, the president of Togo always attend the festival. That festival dated long time ago and still celebrated till date before the introduction of Dandjoar. in Ghana. Thanks again.

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Very great for the good works that our people are enbacking on ,the history of the Bimoba clan and tribe also known as the Gur speaking peoples in Ghana ,This will enable the younger generation to learn and know their culture as well.

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My sister thanks for giving us this insight to our tradition..in fact I have really learnt a lot that I never knew. Most of us born in the southern part don’t know most of these things. God bless you and keep on with your good work.

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Let me also thank you for the good work. Actually is not easy to carry out a research work of this nature. Is really cumbersome. That aside, I see from your write up that, Moba/ Bimobas for that matter were driven away by the Mamprusis and the Dagombas should kindly be checked again. Then again, you did not finally settle on where Exactly we migrated from. Further more, the tribes being identified stands as what? Go further into that too. Lastly, also intensify your research on the Cultural Practices my opinion for now. Thank you so much.

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Thank you so much for your feedback. I am still researching to bring these conclusions, for instance where exactly Bimobas migrated from. However, there is no enough literature. Now am moving on to rely on oral narratives from elders of Bimoba land.
Thank you once again.

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Well done my dear sister, my take is on the issue of konnt, especially the names and their meaning. Am told that those names like Konlan, Laar, Duut Kombat, konjit, konduuk,Tanjon,and the rest each having a specific meaning. After going through the 3months or 4months of initiation a test is conducted and marks are scored. Those who had higher and lower marks,the names are given according to your score marks.eg Laar represents champion in men and konjit in women. Duut represents the least in men,konduuk in women.

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Until today, I never knew we are great like this…
I personally endorse ur piece of write up and encourage you to continue this great work.
I will like to remind of the issue of BOOAT.
It’s the only meal that I think can’t be found anywhere as food, so it’s our traditional food and more information on it would be of great merits to us.
Kudos Niipo

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Great piece. keep up the good works. You can also get in touch with Dr. Duut George a lecturer at Bolgatanga Polytechnic i think he will be of great help to you. He is a great historian.

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Nice piece,I will refer you to Naaba Dazuur of Kpikpira on the Kont…when you mentioned it,I thought you would mention every name with it denoting why he or she is given such name…
And on the history, I refer you to Chamba Faanam of Nakpanduri,Chamba Laari Konjing(old educationist/retired teacher of Jilik-Nakpiok,Chamba Konchian Duut it Tamale-fuu…a small village from Tamale towards Salaga…they have a lot instilled in them and could even refer you to other older men that could be of great help…I wish you could get more insights

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Nice piece , throws more light on our history.i learnt a lot . I think you can write exclusively on the konnt as I will like to Know more.on our delicacies you forgot to mention booat which I love very much. keep up the good work.

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Thank you so much for this input and suggestion, I will research and write about Konnt soon . I will send you a link when I d that. Awww I also like booat alot. I remember we only get to eat during special occasions like Christmas.

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Am higy impressed for this historical write up ,it has actually made me to understand where I came from and have also learned much about my culture. I expressed my heartfelt felicitation to the writer and also encourage you to keep it up.

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That’s a great piece of work, Lydia. Your style of writing makes the story very interesting to read l didn’t want it to end…If there’s anything we can do to help you do more of these, let’s know. You may wanna contact Konlan Kpeebi @ GILLBT in Tamale. He has researched and written extensively on several aspects of the Bimoba tribe. Niipook bonchiann

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I’m overwhelmed with your feedback on this post. Thanks so much for suggesting this contact person too. I will surely make efforts to look for him. I won’t hesitate to contact you if I need more recommendation.

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